Over the course of the Knicks' 1-7 skid, their defense has left much to be desired. There's been a lack of intensity and the urgency to get early stops hasn't been there either. Such a wavering effort often creates too much of a hole for New York to climb out of. By the time the team attempts to make a late push, it's already a lost cause. That's become a pattern most recently.
Getting key defensive stops can often propel a team's effort on the other end. Because of how poorly the Knicks' offense has been, this too has become a pattern for opposing teams. The team's offense has been completely and utterly stagnant over this frustrating stretch. There are too many turnovers.
While a brief absence of Kristaps Porzingis was seemingly to blame early on, their struggles have only continued with him on the court as well. There's very little flow to the offense. Players aren't moving freely without the ball. Instead, most players are left standing around, waiting to see what their teammate with the ball decides to do. If those around the ball-handler aren't getting themselves open, there isn't room for the ball-handler to do much other than isolate and/or force up a contested shot.
This has certainly been the case as of late and Derrick Rose appears to be at center of it all. The Knicks need him to take charge and be a leader. Despite being an explosive scorer, Rose still has the opportunity to fit the definition of a floor general. If his teammates aren't moving, Rose needs to communicate and guide them towardswhere they need to be on the court. This will create opportunities for perimeter shooters and in turn, create space for Rose himself to go to work. He needs to accept that responsibility.
When the offense slows down and players bunch up, Rose tends to force things. This leads to low-percentage scoring opportunities, turnovers and, perhaps more indicative of the Knicks' recent struggles, more fast break chances for opposing teams to score on the other end. When pondering why New York's defensive effort has been so poor, it's sometimes difficult to fall back when the other team is on the run following a demoralizing turnover. Even when the Knicks have position to stop fast break points, it's clear many players are allowing their frustrations to settle in first.
If the Knicks want to right the ship, improvement can start with Rose. He needs to play smarter and be more consistent. In addition to improving his shooting (he's shooting 41 percent over this stretch), Rose needs to make decisions with the basketball, call things out, and stop leaving his feet off of erratic passes. Three assists against a team like Indiana isn't going to cut it. The fact that Jeff Hornacek sat Rose throughout the fourth quarter on consecutive nights proves this team needs more from the point guard position.
Rose needs to come into his own as a leader. If the Knicks want to start being taken seriously as a playoff contender, this needs to happen fast.